Albrecht's eyes narrowed at the thief. "You won't get far in this business by being sensitive. Why don't you stop by the armory and help yourself to some of the new munitions? That way, if you meet that punk again, you won't be the one running away. Anyway, I have somewhere to be. Goodbye."
With that, Albrecht pulled up his collar and walked in the direction of the town. He turned a corner and disappeared into the night.
<The Submersible under the Warehouse, Pennymans District, Rockbay City, Connecticut Side
Ten hours after Kurt's accident - The same morning as the Protectors meet>
The blurred colours and shapes that made up Kurt's vision slowly began to come into focus as he groggily woke from his sleep. Upon opening his eyes, a bright light shined into them, causing him to recoil momentarily. When his eyes adjusted to the light, he realized that he was staring at the electric bulb on the ceiling, and that he was laying on the cold metal floor.
Suddenly, the events of the previous night came rushing back to him. He quickly got to his feet and inspected his surroundings; to his horror, the crate that he had opened was still open, but its contents were gone. The crystals, and the green light that they radiated, were nowhere to be found. Even the shards of the crystal he dropped had been swept off the floor.
Kurt panicked. He had failed the only task his brother had given him, and now he could expect the earth-shattering consequences of failure that his brother had warned him of.
No way in hell I'm sticking around for that, Kurt thought. He knew that his only option now was to flee before his brother returned. He tied his shoes, shoved several bottles of water into his backpack, and took one last swig of his favorite can of beer before pressing the button to lower the sub's ladder. Just as he placed his foot on the bottom rung, the hatch slid open to reveal the face of the last man in the world he wanted to see.
"Kurt," Albrecht said with a disapproving glare, "You weren't drinking on the job, were you?"
Kurt gulped and shook his head. "N-no."
"...Right. So are you gonna get off the ladder, or will I have to kick you off?"
Kurt nodded weakly and stepped off the ladder, backing away towards the other end of the room. While Albrecht climbed down, Kurt ran towards the now-empty crates and tried to cover them with his body, stretching out his arms and legs to cover as many of the gaps as possible. Unfortunately, the thud of Albrecht's boots on the floor told him that he was out of time.
"What... the... HELL?!" Albrecht screamed, barely able to contain his rage. Kurt guiltily repositioned himself in front of the crates, but it was no use: there was no way Albrecht would fall for such an obvious trick. "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE CARGO?!"
"I-I, uh..." Kurt stammered, desperately searching for an explanation.
"I gave you ONE job, Kurt. ONE FUCKING JOB, and you couldn't even do that right. God, I should have put you down myself years ago. Would've saved everyone a whole lotta trouble. Now I have to clean up your mess yet again."
Kurt was approaching the verge of tears. The words of his brother, whose love and acceptance he secretly yearned for, stung hard.
"Well, better late than never." Albrecht muttered, drawing his pistol and aiming it at his own flesh and blood. "Any last words?"
Kurt was about to plead for his life, but first felt the sensation of air rising up his throat. Before he could react, he let out a burp the likes of which this world has never seen. A mighty torrent of stale air, with winds far in excess of 200mph, blasted out of Kurt's mouth and slammed into his brother. Albrecht barely had time to scream as he was launched across the room and slammed into the wall, breaking several bones and knocking him out cold. His unconscious body slumped against the floor.
Kurt grasped his throat, taken aback by his own erratic breathing. He ripped his backpack open and chugged one of its water bottles to try to calm down. Tears were streaming down his face as he realized that he had now fucked up harder than he had ever fucked up before. Not only had his own brother tried to kill him, but there was something very wrong with his body. Did someone put something in his drink? Just what the hell was going on?
The crystals did this. I have to get away. I need to get help.
Kurt drank the last of his water and took one last look at Albrecht's body. I'm sorry, brother... I'm so sorry.
And with that, Kurt fled.
<Unknown location - same time>
A man limped down a darkened corridor, the loose metal walkway clanging beneath his feet with every step he took. He supported himself with a black walking stick topped with a silver head. A thin beam of light emanated from a strange clockwork device embedded in his eye socket as he surveyed his environment.
When he reached the end of the corridor, a door swung open to reveal a luxurious room, adorned with a miniature library, an armchair, and a roaring fireplace. The man smiled, sat in the armchair, and picked up one of his favorite books to read.
About half an hour later, the door to the room swung open and a young woman wearing a naval uniform stepped in. The man in the armchair grimaced upon hearing her entry.
"You know, it's very rude to enter a man's private quarters without knocking."
The woman blushed. "I'm sorry sir, it's just that you wanted me to keep you updated about your son's mission?"
The man sighed and licked his index finger as he turned a page of his book. "And?"
"It was a complete success, sir! We've loaded the cargo through the rear port and into chamber 2, so that the Protectors won't be able to detect its energy signature, sir."
"Good. Were there any complications?"
"None at all. There was a man supposedly guarding it, but he was already unconscious when he got there so we just left him be."
"Very well. Tell my son he'll receive a bonus for his good work."
"Yes, Lord Silverwood. Are we returning to the Shetland Islands?"
"Not yet. I have one last errand to attend to."
The woman turned and exited the room, leaving the Lord to his reading. A satisfied smile spread across his face. Stage one of his plan was complete: he had the crystals, now he just needed someone to test them on, and he knew the perfect candidates: The Protectors of Rockbay City.